Tar Heel Cupcakes

Tar Heel Cupcakes (edited)

These are my babies. My babycakes. My sweet treats. My mini cupcakes, which I've been dying to make. I've seen Megan and Deb go on and on about their obsession with little food, and I drooled when they did so. I clipped Megan's recipe for tiny pies forever ago, but I haven't gotten around to making them. Yet after Deb's tarts, I knew it was time to use the adorable mini cupcake pan I bought at Michael's. And I knew what I wanted: Devil's Food cupcakes with seven-minute frosting, just like my grandmother always made. (But mine is Carolina Blue, of course!)

I've been obsessively using my All New-All Purpose Joy of Cooking, which I've had for a few years and never cracked open. I just haven't done much cooking in the last few years, but since I've been married it's a whole new ballgame. I did a bit of research beyond what JOC says about baking cupcakes, and I just did what seemed right, based on the baking time the recipe called for. They turned out great! They also turned out super-numerous, but that was okay because Brad (who ate FIVE AT A TIME) had enough to get his fill, and I had plenty to take to work to share, too. I highly recommend this recipe, and try them bite-size. They're MUCH more fun than regular cupcakes!

Devil's Food Cake
Adapted from The All New-All Purpose Joy of Cooking
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2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9x2-inch round pans with nonstick spray and parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk one cup sugar and cocoa, and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk cake flour, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
4. In another bowl beat butter until creamy. Gradually add other one cup sugar and beat until light and creamy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
5. On low speed add cocoa mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk, and beat until smooth.
6. Pour batter into pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly, then run a knife around the edge of cake to release it from pan. Invert cake to remove it, and peel off paper. Let cool completely, right side up, on wire racks.

Seven-Minute Frosting
Adapted from The All New-All Purpose Joy of Cooking

JOC recommends using a stainless-steel bowl because crockery and glass are so slow to heat that the top of the meringue cools down before it is adequately heated. Also, be sure to rinse the stem of the thermometer in the simmering skillet water between readings to avoid contaminating the egg whites. Have the egg whites at room temperature.

5 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon of vanilla

1. Whisk all ingredients together in large stainless-steel bowl.
2. Set the bowl in a skillet filled with about 1 inch of simmering water. The water level should be at least as high as the egg whites in the bowl. On low speed, constantly beat the eggs until they reach 140 degrees. JOC says that if you can't keep the thermometer stem in the mixture while you mix it, remove the bowl from the skillet just to read the thermometer, then return it.
3. Once the mixture reaches 140 degrees, beat on high speed for exactly 5 minutes.
4. Remove the bowl from the skillet and add one teaspoon of vanilla. Beat on high for 2 to 3 more minutes to cool. Use immediately.